A few years ago, a friend of mine got me involved in a sport activity which was – to say the least – original. Instead of going for a run in the park or meeting up for a game of tennis or mini-football a couple of times in the week, we made an appointment to meet up in the morning before work along the bankof the Adige River to go canoeing.
I had never held a paddle in my hand before and what followed was not exactly straightforward. . Always strictly in the company of an instructor, we set off from the old dock at the former customs post ,heading up river , We went up bridge after bridge until the Ponte Pietra. For amateur canoeists like us, this was an insurmountable point due to the presence of rapids
I capsized more than once by making a wrong manoeuvre . More than once, I also found myself swimming in the icy water of the river and, cli holding on to the capsized canoe as Itryied to pull it back upthe river bank, so I could set out yet again for the upteenh time.
This experience, which I indeed remember with fondness, did not enamour me with the canoe, to which I do not think myself particularly suited. But it did enamour me with my city, seen from the river. The historic centre of Verona is surrounded on three sides by the river Adige, which thus represents a constant presence. But from down there, from the water surface, a completely different angle opens up, completely new even for those born and brought up in Verona and who believe they know it well. You see a completely different city: compact, with colourful buildings towers and clock-towers lined up and dropping sheer to the river banks, like a long and sinuous skyline – it is difficult to describe it in words until you have seen it with your own eyes.
The Verona stretch of the river Adige, which is the second longest river in Italy after the river Po, in view of its currents and flow, seems more than anything else to be like a great torrent which alternates between stretches which are particularly placid and others which are somewhat frothier. By its nature the river Adige does not allow it to provide an inland waterway transport service, such as those in London or Paris. But you don’t have to be a canoeist to experience the rush of a tour on the waters.
The starting point for exploring the river Adige is definitely the Verona Canoe Club in its new location at the Bottagisio sports centre, a centre recently constructed and the leading light of the city’s sports facilities. From here an association organises rafting tours and excursions, adapted to those aged three and over. This is a route of highly panoramic but also cultural value, as a commentary is given (in Italian and English) covering all there is to know of the history of the navigation on this river, the bridges which cross it and the relationship between the city and its waterway.
The city route is not the only spectacular point along the river Adige for a trip on an inflatable. The same association also happens to arrange excursions on the stretch of river further to the north (departing from the village of Dolcè and arriving in Pescantina) where the crossing of the Ceraino lock is particularly scenic, where the river winds its way along a series of curves against the backdrop of the rocky crags of the ravine, which has the appearance of the true and genuine canyon. For those who have a passion for it, this stretch of the river is the venue for the annual Adige Marathon which, alongside the competitive heats, even allows amateurs with their canoes to join in a great day of celebration.